NWSL confirms ‘landmark’ rights deals with CBS and Twitch

NWSL confirms ‘landmark’ rights deals with CBS and Twitch
The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), the top flight of women’s club soccer in the US, has confirmed three-year domestic media rights deals with US broadcaster CBS Sports and streaming service Twitch.

CBS Sports will show 87 NWSL games in 2020 across its flagship commercial channel CBS, pay-television outlet CBS Sports Network and CBS All Access, the broadcaster’s subscription on-demand and live streaming service.

The split of games in 2020 will see two fixtures – the season-opener and the championship game – air on CBS, with 14 games on CBS Sports Network, including both semi-finals, and an additional 71 matches on CBS All Access.

Twitch, meanwhile, will stream 24 selected matches for free during the 2020 season. The Amazon-owned company will also serve as the NWSL’s exclusive international media rights partner, providing global coverage of all 108 regular season fixtures, the play-offs and the championship game.

In addition, the NWSL and Twitch plan to create additional league and player-related content, as well as original programming.

“The NWSL is elated to partner with CBS Sports and Twitch, two incredible media companies with a proven track record of award-winning coverage,” said Lisa Baird, the recently appointed commissioner of the NWSL. “This new media rights agreement is a watershed moment for women’s soccer in the US and around the world and is the first time NWSL matches will be available to such a wide audience.

“We are excited to work with CBS with its rich history, tradition and storied innovation to utilise the power of their multiple platforms to reach more fans. We also are eager to team up with Twitch to showcase the brightest stars in the sport. These partnerships will continue to amplify the NWSL and its teams on a national and international stage.”

The deals with CBS and Twitch were negotiated by international sports agency Octagon, which signed a media rights consulting and marketing strategy partnership with the NWSL back in October.

The agreements secure the long-term future of one of the NWSL’s key revenue streams after several years of uncertainty around the league’s media rights.

Last year saw the NWSL bring an early end to its three-year media rights partnership with A+E Networks, which left the league without a traditional broadcast outlet ahead of the 2019 campaign. The NWSL then agreed a deal partway through the season with cable giant ESPN, which later also secured international coverage until the end of the campaign.

However, the NWSL has benefitted from a boon in interest and popularity since last year’s Fifa Women’s World Cup and the new media rights deal with CBS marks the first time that a US broadcast network will present live, national coverage of women’s professional club soccer.

The 2020 NWSL season gets underway on 18th April with a game between OL Reign, who were recently rebranded after being acquired by French side Olympique Lyonnais, and the Washington Spirit.

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